Sunday, September 29, 2013

CNBC catches up with The Queen of Versailles subjects

The Queen of Versailles (HU DVD 4553) is one of the more popular and unusual documentaries in our collection. It chronicles the lifestyle of Florida billionaires Jackie and David Siegel as they attempt to build an impossibly massive mansion during the height of the recent economic downturn. As the film explains, a variety of economic and hubristic factors prevented the French-inspired Versailles House from reaching completion.

Apparently the Siegels have doubled down, vowing to complete the mansion within the next few years. For those who came out of The Queen of Versailles deeply intrigued, a recent tour from CNBC shines light on the current state of the project. The piece, featured on the show Secret Lives Of The Super Rich, is by no means a critical exposé, but it does provide an interesting follow-up to see how the Siegels are still pursuing their dreams of elaborate grandeur.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Catch new short films around DC all week

DC has become an epicenter of independent films, attracting filmmakers from around the country to take advantage of the city's social activism and global culture.

One of DC's hallmark film events, the DC Shorts Film Festival, kicked off last Thursday and continues through this week. The DC Shorts Festival includes screenings of 153 films from around the globe, including a collection of 18 Russian shorts. If you don't live in downtown DC, other theaters in Maryland and Virginia plan to show the same programs as well.

Tickets to the DC Shorts Film Festival are $12 online or $15 at the door. This year's festival also includes a $40 streaming package that lets you watch many of the films at home (pretty neat!). This is a fun opportunity to explore fresh voices in local and world cinema from the comfort of your city.

UPDATE: DC Shorts has kindly provided a code for $2 off tickets for students! Just enter the code SHARE2 at checkout for a discount.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

See famed director Arturo Ripstein on campus TODAY!

American University is proud and excited to host famed Spanish film director Arturo Ripstein on campus today at 5:30pm in the Letts Formal Lounge.

Ripstein has been active in the Spanish film industry for years, starting as an assistant to director Luis Buñuel and eventually directing his own feature films in 1965. If you've taken a Spanish film class, you've no doubt run across some of his films, including El lugar sin limites and Deep Crimson.

The event will include a panel discussion with Professors Lucy Grandas, Jeffrey Middents, Nuria Vilanova, and Brenda Werth (all friends of Media Services). This is a massively exciting opportunity to hear from a big name in world cinema. Come to the Letts Formal Lounge early to ensure you have a seat!

We have a number of Ripstein's films in our collection, including...

El Crimen del Padre Amaro (The Crime of Padre Amaro) - HU DVD 1076
La Virgen de la Lujuria (The Virgin of Lust) -- HU DVD 5485
Deep Crimson -- HU DVD 5486
Lugar Sin Limites (Place Without Limits) - DVD 6033
La Perdicion de los Hombres (The Ruination of Men) -- HU DVD 7216

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

These Banned Books Week film screens are [REDACTED]

Banned Books Week, the annual tongue-in-cheek celebration of censorship in libraries, starts on Sunday, September 22nd. Libraries have a long history of fighting critics and officials about the inclusion of books with controversial, especially ones aimed towards children. This is a chance to push back and shine a light on why these books were challenged – and why it's important to keep them around.

It's not just about books though. We can have fun with controversial movies too.

DC Public Library system is celebrating the week with screenings of films based on famously challenged and banned books. Festivities kick off on Sunday with a screening of the often-criticized The Perks of Being a Wallflower, followed by others including To Kill a Mockingbird, Fahrenheit 451, and Bridge to Terabithia.

No matter where you live in DC, there'll be a nearby library holding an event. What better way to celebrate a week about fighting censorship than embracing controversy in every medium?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Get pumped! Free passes for Don Jon and Captain Phillips

We've been getting busier and busier since the start of the semester, so we imagine it's pretty hectic for students too. There's no better time for a cooldown than this week, and what better way to take a break than by going to the movies?

We have passes to see two new movies for free this week! Your two potential options are:
  • Don Jon with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, playing at 7pm on Tuesday, September 17th
  • Captain Phillips with Tom Hanks, playing at 8pm on Wednesday, September 18th
These are two big movies that will no doubt be in the mix for awards season – or at least among JGL fans. Come to Media Services to pick up your passes. Our usual caveats apply: these are passes, not tickets, and do not guarantee entry. Show up early to ensure that you get a seat.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We need your input! Shape the future of the library TOMORROW

Over the summer, the AU Library has been working with the Brightspot consulting group to formulate new ideas for using our library's space. After months of brainstorming sessions with the library staff, the folks at Brightspot are ready to propose their ideas and seek opinions from AU Library community.

Now is your chance to get a say in the future of the AU Library. This will be the public's first look at the ideas we have worked with Brightspot to develop. You are strongly encouraged to attend; your input is greatly valued in this process.

The presentation and discussion will be held Thursday, September 12th, at 3:30pm in the Mud Box. RSVP for the event on Facebook. There will be food!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Aargh crickets!

Aaaarrrggh! A family of crickets has taken up residence outside the emergency door in Media Services, and you can hear them everywhere. Normally we would've tried to clear them out, but because the pathway outside the library is currently under construction, we can't get to them.

We, for one, welcome our new insect overlords!

Lest we rush to judgment about our awful cricket nemeses, let's remember for a brief second that they're as much a part of nature as we are. As a testament to the vastness of our streaming video collection, here is an hour-long video titled Facts About Insects that reminds us about the small friends we share the world with.

We'll keep you posted on the cricket situation. They're pretty annoying, but we know we'll miss them when they're gone.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Feeling creative? Learn screenwriting at the New Media Center THIS THURSDAY!

The New Media Center's training sessions usually cover technical know-how, like editing video or making a podcast. But for one night only, we're covering the creative side too.

On Thursday, September 12th at 6pm, the New Media Center will host a master class taught by SOC Professor Claudia Myers on the screenwriting process. If you've ever wanted to hone your skills at writing story, structure, character, action, and dialogue, Thursday evening is your chance.

Come to the New Media Center on Thursday evening to learn! RSVP is not required, but feel free to sign up for the event on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Vimeo steps into the film distribution game

The breakdown of the conventional media publishing model has led filmmakers to some unusual sources for funding. The most obvious alternative is Kickstarter, where hopeful directors can collect thousands of small donations to bankroll projects. Other large companies such as Netflix and Amazon have offered lucrative deals for original content in the vein of traditional distributors.

But now, even unlikelier names are offering up money. Vimeo, the YouTube alternative frequently used for independent short films, is offering $10,000 to films willing to premiere exclusively on for their first month of release. We know that many students who visit the New Media Center use Vimeo to distribute their video projects, so although this initial deal only applies to films appearing at the Toronto International Film Festival, this is a smart idea that could give a much-needed financial boost to aspiring filmmakers.

We'll see if Vimeo extends this deal after TIFF. If they continue putting fund up for independent films, we could see a new (and more accessible) player in the film distribution world.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Miyazaki retires! Celebrate the legendary director's work

A luminary of the film industry is throwing in the towel. With the release of The Wind Rises, his eleventh feature film, Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki has announced his retirement from filmmaking. The sudden announcement was perhaps inevitable given Miyazaki's age, but his absence from the world of animation will be felt immediately. Miyazaki's production house, Studio Ghibli, has often been called the Japanese equivalent of Disney; Ghibli is responsible for many critically acclaimed Japanese films, including 2010's The Secret World of Arrietty.

Miyazaki will probably still have a hand in the operations of Studio Ghibli and in producing more animated films, but his absence in the director's chair will be sorely missed. Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away are among the most cherished and lauded animated films ever.

Luckily, Miyazaki leaves behind three decades of quality animated features. We have the director's entire filmography available for checkout in Media Services. Watch one or two and pay tribute to his enormous and acclaimed body of work.

Spirited Away – HU DVD 586
Princess Mononoke –  HU DVD 1206
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind  – HU DVD 2977
Castle in the Sky – HU DVD 2978
Howl's Moving Castle – HU DVD 2979
My Neighbor Totoro – HU DVD 4709
Kiki's Delivery Service – HU DVD 6077
Ponyo – HU DVD 6937
Porco Rosso – HU DVD 10216
The Castle of Cagliostro – HU DVD 10694

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Syrian civil war documentary available streaming via AU Library

With the White House's recent announcement that it intends to engage in military strikes against Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria in response to its purported use of chemical weapons, the ongoing Syrian civil war has once again been thrust into international spotlight. For many who have not followed the conflict since it began in 2011, the reasons for the renewed interest in Syria are perhaps unclear, even as officials continue to spell out the extent of the death and carnage.

The AU Library has access to a streaming documentary, Syria: The Assads' Twilight, that explains the country's backgrounds and the conditions leading to the civil war. The documentary was produced before the civil war entered its deadliest phase, and as such, it only addresses how the Assad regime's actions created a brittle state what was, at the time, on the verge of collapse. However, it is an extremely useful hour-long primer for those wishing to learn more about the conditions leading to the current conflict.

For those wishing to view the film at library, we also have a DVD version available for in-house viewing (DVD 10636).

(Viewers must be on AU campus or logged into WRLC Catalog to view this content.)